Indian citizen group report seeks withdrawal of army and other security forces from civilian areas in Kashmir

By Raqib Hameed Naik,

New Delhi: A citizen’s fact-finding report on Kashmir protests called for the withdrawal of the army and other paramilitary forces including the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force and Indo Tibetan Border Police from civilian areas of Jammu and Kashmir.

A youth being thranshed mercilessly by Indian Security forces in Maisuma area of Srinagar (By Raqib Hameed Naik)

The report compiled by representatives of diverse peoples’ movements, trade unions and other organisations, titled “Why Are People Protesting in Kashmir” which was released on May 11 looks into the ‘violation’ of democratic rights in the Kashmir Valley in 2016.The report is divided into 8 heads and looks into the issue of targeted killings, use of PSA, destruction of local economy, extortion and examines many other issues.

The report says that in every case the killing were targeted and  took place at a time when there were no protest demonstrations.

“In more than one instance, the killing appeared to be a knee-jerk reaction of the state armed forces to protests that had taken place in the area on a preceding date, and in some cases the previous day,” reads the report.

The report alleges state and central governments of waging a war against the maiming and blinding of civilians, most of whom are young, unmarried men aged between 16-25 years.

The citizen’s team also came across cases where ambulances carrying patients were damaged, patients were beaten inside the hospitals and excesses of security forces in preventing relief work done by volunteers outside the hospitals.

“Representatives of the Resident Doctors’ Association, SMHS, told us that the medical community was working under extremely stressful conditions, made even more difficult by the interference of security forces. Doctors have been harassed, hospitals have been attacked, and operation theatres were forced to shut down,” reads the report.

The team have observed that the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA)  has been used to illegally detain minors, for ‘revolving door detentions’ to detain people for more than the maximum period allowed under the PSA, and in failing to provide grounds for detention to detainees in many cases.

Looking into the loss caused to local economy, the team found huge and significant impact of ‘state repression’ in 2016 on the local economy and livelihood of people. Besides a disruption in regular economic activities due to the curfew imposed by the State, the team came across a large number of instances of direct attacks by state armed forces on economic activities of local people and the destruction of public as well as private property.

“Amongst the most brutal attack on the local economy, and a new means of repression used by the Army and CRPF for the first time during this phase of conflict, was the burning of standing paddy crops,” the report says.

The report has further alleged presence of extortion racket which it claims is significant offshoot of the militarisation, arbitrary arrests and detentions, facilitated by arbitrary laws like the PSA. “In more than one instance, locals narrated the common practice of young boys being picked up, arrested or detained and released only on the payment of large sums of money. The main perpetrator in this context is the state police.”

The report accused the BJP government at the centre and the PDP-BJP government in J&K for acts of vengeance aimed at forcing the peoples of Kashmir into subjugation by using every possible force available to the government for breaking the people’s resolve for a democratic settlement to achieve their aspirations.

The citizen’s team have called for recognition of Kashmir dispute, repeal of PSA, release of political prisoners, establishment of judicial tribunal, and entering into an open and transparent dialogue.

The team has also called upon Indian citizens to recognize the actions of the Indian state in the Kashmir valley as far removed from the values of a democratic republic and beyond the pale by any acceptable norms of a civilised society in the 21st century.

“We call upon all Indian peoples to ensure that the injustices against Kashmir’s people are brought to an end and their democratic aspirations addressed,” the report said in conclusion.